Out of Riga:

NATO chiefs meeting in Riga, Latvia, have moved “the yardsticks substantially,” said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in a concluding press conference Wednesday. Much of the discussion centered on NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, including an agreement from several member nations participating in the International Security Assistance Force to diminish some restrictive caveats. De Hoop Scheffer said, “About 20,000 of the total 32,000 NATO-ISAF forces are now more useable than they were for combat and non-combat missions.” Earlier this fall, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Marine Corps Gen. James Jones had criticized the restrictions. He also chastised member nations for coming up 15 percent short of promised forces. According to de Hoop Scheffer, they are now only short about 10 percent and have pledged “additional fighters, helicopters, several infantry companies, and embedded training teams.” But, he added, “We still have to work on the 10 percent.”